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Firefighting is a tough job, something that NBC’s “Chicago Fire” tries to show every Wednesday night at 10 p.m. So a tough actor had to play the role as battalion chief. Enter British actor Eamonn Walker, best known to TV fans as Kareem Said from the groundbreaking HBO show “Oz.” If you watched the short-lived “Kings” he starred on there as well, or you might remember him from his role as bluesman Howlin’ Wolf in the movie “Cadillac Records.” For those who didn’t have the chance to see him and Denzel Washington go toe to toe on Broadway in “Julius Caesar”, you missed the undeniable pleasure of seeing two great actors at the top of their game. Despite growing up in England, Walker says it was an American actor that inspired him to get on stage.

“I was a kid sitting next to my mum at our home in Tufnell Park watching "In the Heat of the Night on TV," with Sidney Poitier as Virgil Tibbs, the black detective helping to solve a murder in Mississippi,” Walker told “The famous scene in the greenhouse, when Rod Steiger’s racist police chief slaps Virgil in the face, went straight through the TV screen and into my heart. It was that amazing look in Poitier’s eyes that hit me. I just turned to my mum and said, “I want to do that”. I guess I was reacting to the sheer power of the acting. I remember the very next day walking into Hungerford School in Islington and all the racial stuff I used to take as the norm stopped happening. I was a different human being, but had no idea how to become an actor.”

Fortunately for acting fans, Walker figured it out. On “Chicago Fire” Walker plays battalion chief Wallace Boden, who has to overcome personal issues in order to make professional decisions. His judgment is called into question on this week’s episode, when a homeless man dies after Boden calls his unit out of a burning warehouse.

Here’s a clip from “One Minute,” Wednesday’s episode of “Chicago Fire.” 


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